There seems to be something about Christmas-time in Britain that makes everyone wildly over-estimate the amount of dates their guests will wish to eat. Most of us can happily get through the year without thinking much, if at all, about eating dates but, come December we’re buying boxes of the things as if Christmas would be ruined without them. I can hear the CCM (Caked Crusader’s Ma) bristling whilst reading this so I’d better confess – it was me who grossly over-bought dates this year. But who could blame me - aren’t they beautiful?
This was my thought process: it’s colder than Antarctica in England this week and I need to get rid of lots of dates. Voila! Sticky toffee pudding. If there was ever a better reason to stock pile dates I’m interested to hear it!
Here’s the cake fresh from the oven:
I can’t even try to argue any health benefits on this one; it’s as sinful as pudding can be. The sweet, light sponge is dotted with dates, releasing their beautiful toffee flavour in every mouthful. Add to that the thick, creamy sauce stoked up with brown sugar and black treacle and it’s an assault on the taste buds! Yum.
A piece of cake....
...only truly becomes sticky toffee pudding once the sauce is added:
For the cake:
175g stoned and chopped dates (I used Medjool)
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
50g unsalted butter
175g caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
175g self raising flour
For the sauce:
300ml double cream
50g Demerara sugar
2 heaped teaspoons black treacle
How to make:
- Preheat oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/ Gas mark 4
- Grease a 22cm square tin.
- Boil the dates in the water for 5 minutes until the dates are soft. Make sure you use a large saucepan – larger than you think you need.
- Stir in the bicarbonate of soda. It will bubble up a lot, hence the need for a large saucepan. Put to one side until needed.
- Cream together the butter and sugar until well combined. It won’t become light and fluffy because the sugar far outweighs the butter.
- Beat in the vanilla extract.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time.
- Stir in the flour.
- Pour in the contents of the saucepan i.e. dates AND liquid.
- Stir until well combined. The batter will be very runny so don’t panic.
- Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the sponge comes out cleanly.
- Leave to cool on a wire rack.
- Now make the sauce: put all the ingredients into a saucepan and stir, over a low heat, until smooth.
- Bring to the boil.
- Cut the sponge into squares and ladle the sauce over the top. Serve with either ice cream (my favourite) or custard.
- You can make both the sponge and the sauce in advance and re-heat when required. I re-heated the sponge, still in the tin, in a fan oven temperature of 130°C . The sauce can be re-heated in a saucepan on the hob – simply stir until smooth and then bring to the boil.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.